To enjoy creative pursuits is to experience rest for our souls. How can we rest without comparing ourselves to others?
When I was growing up, our family would sometimes go out for pizza. It didn’t happen often, but whenever we went, my mom would always order a combination pizza to “make sure we get our veggies and protein”.
We didn’t know about saturated fat back then. Our pizza would arrive at our table loaded up with sausage, pepperoni, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives and everything else. The works.
It was so ridiculously heaped with the kitchen sink, most of my slice of pie would end up on the plate, with the cheese dragging everything down with it. I’d be left with an empty piece of crust and end up eating pizza toppings with fork in hand.
Not the ideal pizza lover’s experience.
When I’m craving to get creative, I keep this picture in mind.
I can get so frantic trying to create whatever wonderful-awesome-great experience, I become vulnerable to one of the biggest rest killers: comparing myself to others.
When we compare ourselves to others, we heap on so much unrest, our souls cave in.
We stop enjoying creative endeavors.
We resign to just doing maintenance.
When Rest Comes
Lack of rest isn’t tied to the amount of time we are spending or the type of activity we’re engaged in.
I once sat frozen solid in a watercolor workshop, stressed to the max because I couldn’t stop glancing at my neighbor’s Monet in the making. I finally managed to dip my brush on a pallet of colors and pulled back in horror as the droplets of paint dripped across my canvas before I could apply a single stroke.
Rest comes when we are free to get lost in the doing because we trust that God is producing fruit in our being.
One of the thrills of creative endeavors is getting lost in the process and ending up with something new. We need to show up and put in the effort, but we can’t force creativity to happen.
As a writer, I am constantly faced with the question: will my words bring beauty or value?
When I compare myself (negatively) to others, it never leads me to anything restful. It may look good on the outside but inside, I know it was beaten out of me, out of fear that I am not enough.
When we compare ourselves with others, we close the door to rest and return to the stress of producing rather than exploring.
A Gift In Times of Drought
Last weekend, I took a brief hike into the mountains for my whitespace, something I do regularly to create some soul space. I have been working on a writing project, relentlessly dogged by a critical voice.
As I found a quiet spot to sit down, journal and reflect, I became inspired by Jeremiah 17:7-9 —
“Blessed is the man (woman) who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is the Lord.
He will be like a tree planted by the water…
It will not fear when the heat (of comparison) comes;
… It will not be anxious
in the year of drought (a dry spell of creativity)
Nor cease to bear fruit.”
I spent the rest of the hike inspired by that promise.
As long as I am confident God made me for creative rest, He will bring internal, soul fruit out of it.
Even if I suffer a drought, I decided I will write simply because I was created for the pleasure.
Creativity is a God-given gift embedded in each of us. Rest springs out of enjoying this gift, not what we can accomplish through it.
I eventually grew up to learn about pizzas that are celebrated with such simple toppings as marina sauce, cheese and basil. They are deliciously packed with pleasure, without much fanfare.
Still, it’s hard to order a Hawaiian pizza plain with just pineapple and ham. I like adding black olives and pepperoni. After all, I want to make sure I eat a well balanced meal.
Since I kicked off a new series on rest, I wanted to share today’s post early on. Let’s give ourselves permission to enjoy this adventure of rest, without the weight of comparison but with the grace of encouragement.
Is there a creative activity or outlet you enjoy — or would like to try — but feel soul-tied by critical voices?
How do you rest from comparing yourself (negatively) to others?
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*NEW FOR MARCH!* We’re exploring a new series — Whitespace: Restoring Rest. Check out our topic for today and next week’s!
*** NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN — FAITH BARISTA JAM! ***
Faith Barista Jam Thursdays — I serve up a topic of faith, you write the post. Let’s encourage each other. Add your voice. Swap our stories.
This Thursday’s Topic 3/3: Rest
One of our Faith Jam bloggers chose Rest as her One Word for 2011: Katie Randolf.
Share your post by clicking on the blue button below “Add Your Link” or just comment directly.
Next Thursday’s Topic 3/10:
Pick one: Share your craving and journey for rest in creativity, community or adventure.
Approach it any way you feel inspired! Only required ingredient: keep it real. Thanks for serving your personal brews!
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Photo Courtesy of jcolman under Creative Common License.
You make so many good points here, but my favorite is this, “Rest comes when we are free to get lost in the doing because we trust that God is producing fruit in our being.” Trusting God, faith, really is the key. Love that – thank you!
Thank you, Courtney!
God is teaching me the same about my creativity. I began taking art lessons two years ago. It’s when I let go of the perfectionism and comparing myself to others that I love what I paint. I remind myself that God created each of us in his image, but he didn’t create any of us just alike so why should we expect our creativity to look like someone else’s. Yes it is when we rest in who he created us to be do we find the creativity he gave us.
Love this, Amy. There is variety in everything created. Otherwise, it becomes a copy.
My creativity was stopped when critical voices of loved ones caused me to stop. I had all sorts of praise for my art work from teachers and peers. I had peers asking why I wasn’t an art major when I took art for teacher’s course. I believed the critical voices and have alway wished I had done more. Maybe one day I can take some more course and do something with my art. I also had someone tell me I couldn’t write about God back in high school when I shared with a teacher a poem about God I wrote. So I stopped writing for the longest time. I finally started journaling again and got back in touch with my writing. And you have read some of my writing now through my blog. I did not compare myself, I listened to the critical voices of others and believed them. I am learning that it matters what God and I think. I am learning to trust God’s inspiration.
“Learning to trust in God’s inspiration” inspires us, Katie.
This was exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you!
Love the Jeremiah Scripture that came to you in your “clearing your head” time. I need to get out in nature more and enjoy that kind of time and connection with God.
Also, I wanted to thank you for this idea of connecting links. I’ve got to get off to work this morning, but I plan to come back later and click through several.
No matter how busy you are – have a beautiful, restful day.
The links are amazing, Nina. I’m so encouraged with each read. Blessings!
Stress vs. Rest Oh, I am so there!
“When we compare ourselves with others, we close the door to rest and return to the stress of producing rather than exploring.” So true!
Bonnie, I enjoy your blog. God speaks to me, through you! Thank you:)
So happy to “see” you, Dawn! 🙂
Wow, when we trust we are like trees planted by water! We don’t have to fear heat or drought!I love that verse. My rest and creativity has recently been hindered by jealously, which comes from my comparisions. I was praying about my jealously on the way to work. Then I found your post in my inbox at work and it was just what I needed. It’s awesome how God works.
This post also reminded me of another verse: “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16. Grace and mercy at His throne bring rest.
Thanks, Bonnie, for your words!
Jennifer, I love you here this am. What a great verse in Heb. to pair with Jer.! Thank you!
[…] For More About Rest: Check out Bonnie Gray’s post “One of the Biggest Rest Killers.” […]
Great post and topic! God gave each of us creativity to use for HIS glory. When we stress and strive for more than he has planned for us, stress is sure to come. I try to keep my eyes on Him instead of looking around and comparing myself to others and what they’re doing .
My husband and I try to keep stress down in our lives by talking to each other before taking on any new/added projects. After praying and talking with each other, I can then confidently take on a new creative project, or be able to confidently say “no” without regret. That’s one way I guard against comparing myself to others, because I know what I’m doing (or not doing) has been carefully been thought out and brought before the Lord before I proceeded.
Danielle, that’s encouraging and practical way to grow confidence… To actually pray with one’s spouse on a creative project. Thank you!
Such a great topic for this blog and certainly timeless. Rest is certainly tied to faith–trusting that God can lead us to do his work and then immersing ourselves into it by faith.
On another point in this post, I have found that writing is the kind of act where we need to stop our inner-introspection and simply think of how to effectively connect with readers without worrying about what they think of us. This post really hits on that aspect for me. My best writing happens when I think, “What if…” and then write about the “what if” ideas in a way that connects with readers. It’s a delicate balance where we can’t overthink what’s in our heads and we can’t overthink what our readers are thinking. Ya know?
Oh, yeah. Totally. I love your writing for faith tip, Ed. Practical and spiritual. Creativity is a delicate yet intentional space to be.
Great thoughts on creativity and rest! I so enjoy your blog.
Comparing to others can be a creativity killer. Comparing and competing. What a cycle. It’s good to see that you are learning to let that go. I hope I don’t sound too old with the encouragment that it does get better. As you grow into yourself and into God, you can become confident that who you are, what your life is, is enough….Ahhhhhhh
Carol – aiming for sage old Grandma status
Sage is attractive for all ages. Thank you for sharing your on the post today, Carol!
Comparison is one of those things that I know will be destructive to me, but I end up doing it anyway. It is so paralyzing, and it breeds such unhealthy stuff!
OK, I got it. Don’t compare -> find rest.
Well, I also wanted to mention what I compare about usually. It’s fruitfulness. I see other godly people and what God is doing in their lives and think, “I want to be fruitful like that!” Then I end up wanting to be more fruitful than I think I am. It also means I’m disregarding the different kind of fruitfulness that God is uniquely using me for. *sigh*
OK, I’d like to start getting it. No comparisons!
We love the fruit He yields in you, Monica. One read and I know it is your heart I’m hearing.
“Rest comes when we are free to get lost in the doing because we trust that God is producing fruit in our being.”
“To enjoy creative pursuits is to experience rest for our souls.”
You have so many good sentences that hit home with me, Bonnie. I’ve been struggling to find rest in the slowing down but I also need to find it in the no-comparisons. Good stuff here! Thanks!
Look next to you, Lisa. I’m right there with you. 😉
“Rest comes when we are free to get lost in the doing because we trust that God is producing fruit in our being.” Nice Monet-ish words dripped from your keyboard brush.
I must stay connected to The Creator to be creative.
Thanks Faith B. Well Done.
Doug! Here you are going all quotable on me! “I must stay connected to The Creator to be creative.” Kachow! 🙂
Ever since we worked with middle school youth I’ve had the following verse stuck in my head: “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” 2 Cor 10:12 NIV
I have to remind myself of this frequently!
Thanks for providing another wonderful reminder of this truth today!
Wow. Great verse to add here, Niki – a gem. Thank you! btw, you work with Middle Youth? That means you must eat a lot of pizza. Combination? 🙂 LOL.
This encourages me so much! We do often feel that we have to compete to be the MOST creative when IF we just find our security, shelter, REST in Him, we could truly allow our G0d-given creativity to come through.
Thank you for this challenge & inspiration!
Thanks for sharing your rest thoughts, Lindsey!
I absolutely love this post. I remember taking a tole painting class with my best friend, she excels at everything she does, and I was getting more and more frustrated as the class wore on. Mine did NOT look like hers! At the end, when I was trying to paint the rosy cheek on the goose, she said, “It looks like it’s been shot!” The upshot of the whole thing, is that we never forgot that class. Because I plunged in and did it anyway, the end result was that we laugh about it even to this day.
I ended up painting a whole new stool, and she still has it! The best times are when we just let go and enjoy the creative process, no matter how it turns out. The experience is the best part! Lori
Oh, Lori! I’m glad to hear you still laugh about it. ‘Cuz I LOVED the punchline. Just made me laugh. ‘Cuz I know…
ah! love this take on rest and makes me be a little like ohhh so i can still “do” and be at rest =) pondering the creative outlet where i’ve let comparison steal it away…i’ll keep on mulling that one over!
I read your post in the jam.. and yes, our souls were meant for all kinds of rest. Loved how you shared your journey in it, Katy!
Bonnie, this is such an encouragement to me. Thank you for so many quotable moments that I can put in my pocket and carry along the way!
This may be a strange twist to what many others have commented, but I find that my “rest” is stolen as I become overly concerned with the thoughts and feelings of the people around me who are comparing themselves to me.
I was raised in a home with two parents who were extremely confident and raised their children to be the same. Though my personal struggles are many, comparing myself to others is just not one of them.
However, my heart breaks each time I am faced with jealousy & envy from my peers that inevitably comes when I allow the depths of creativity that He has placed within me to flow. It is undeniable… however, my life’s message to each person around me is that this very same flow is within them too and that I long to celebrate each act of creativity they allow, without the pain of their comparison.
The Jeremiah passage takes on new meaning for me today… as I see it in the light that I can trust the Lord with their hearts and continue to be creatively fruitful, even as they work through their own issues of esteem.
Thanks for this…
This is a great one to contemplate . . . and it’s been something that just today was challenged to me by my pastor to take a rest in a specific area of my life. It’s going to be a very difficult, but it’s needed for healing, yet, it’s a part of my whole being. Thank you for sharing, challenging too . . . and it’s gift to get me to write about it . . . to continue on with my “rest”.
[…] Linking this post with Bonnie Gray as the Faith Barista community jams on the topic of […]
So just thinking of all that stuff piled on that pizza made me feel a little ill. Which is the same way I feel when I pile on too much “stuff.”
“Creativity is a God-given gift for all of us to enjoy. Rest springs out of enjoying this gift, not what we can accomplish through it.”
Pondering this tonight.
I’m linking a post I wrote about 3 weeks ago. I think it fits this jam.
Love you, girl.
I remember a coloring exercise we did in my kindergarten class. We were given an outline of a dog and we had to color it. I was trying to make my coloring project look like my German Shepherd. Then I looked at the girl sitting next to me, she was putting little black dots all over her dog to make it a dalmatian. So I started doing that. Then I looked at someone else’s and they were making a collie. I wound up with the most interesting mutt ever. I always think about that when I start comparing. Thanks for the reminder to do what I do to the best of my ability and to find rejuvenation in that.
I loved the idea of writing just for the pleasure of it and not having to accomplish something by it. The drive to achieve definitely robs us of the pleasure or rest of creativity and probably the more free-flowing ideas.
Hope to drop a post by tomorrow. I took the evening for a much needed rest 🙂
Good thoughts to ponder!! Love the scriptures you chose…and as always – good timing.
Last week (in church on Sat. pm, and at Wed. night small group – so before I knew your topic) God impressed upon my heart a few phrases: “what is the ONE thing He created me to do” and “giving up control of the good, to grasp hold of the BEST”. I’ve been praying about those things since then, and wondering what I’m supposed to do with that – and then earlier on Thursday I got a piece of mail that sort of threw me for a loop… and now I’m awake at 3am….and seeking Him and His will…
I’m glad that purging my email (that I ignored all day) was a part of this early morning process. I needed to hear this.
Back to my inbox – and a little blogging once I’m done…
I am constantly comparing myself to others…and I pretty much always feel that I end up short. This was a much needed word for me today, Bonnie. Hope you are well, and that your writing project got a shot of caffeine from your whitespace trip. 🙂